If Denver wants to add a starting cornerback in the 2021 NFL Draft, the Broncos may need to do so with one of their first two picks.
Should a team wait past the second round to add a cornerback, the best options on the board could be long gone, according to NFL Network's Daniel Jeremiah.
"For those teams looking for corners, they're going to all go, so you better get on that ride early in the first or second round," Jeremiah said Tuesday.
Jeremiah's ranking of the top cornerback prospects is split into a few distinct groups, beginning with Virginia Tech's Caleb Farley and Alabama's Patrick Surtain II at the top for the position. Both players have been mocked repeatedly to Denver and are part of a "big four" that also includes South Carolina's Jaycee Horn and Northwestern's Greg Newsome II. After Newsome's Pro Day performance on Tuesday, Jeremiah said he wouldn't be surprised if Newsome is taken ahead of Horn.
The next group of talent includes four more players who Jeremiah believes will all be selected by the end of the second round.
"[There's] Kelvin Joseph from Kentucky, who is really, really fluid, athletic," Jeremiah said. "He's got great ball skills. … You've got Aaron Robinson from Central Florida, who primarily played inside there but who is real tough, physical, aggressive — easy speed. I think you're going to see, if you're looking for big corners, both Georgia corners are going to go in the second round. You look at Tyson Campbell as well as [Eric] Stokes from Georgia. Both those guys are big and fast. … Those are big-time size, speed corners that I think you'll see come off the board there in the second round. That's a really good group of corners there in round two, and then after that, it really starts to drop off on my list."
Denver currently holds two picks — the ninth- and 40th-overall selections — in the first two rounds.
The Broncos last selected a cornerback in the first two rounds of the draft when they chose Bradley Roby with the 31st-overall pick in 2014. Denver has not used a top-10 pick on a cornerback since the 1970 merger.
Asked which player Denver could target if George Paton and Co. choose not to select a cornerback with their first pick, Jeremiah said linebacker Micah Parsons could be a good fit in Head Coach Vic Fangio's system. Parsons opted out of the 2020 season, but he is Jeremiah's 10th-overall prospect. In a recent mock draft, Jeremiah projected the Lions would take Parsons with the seventh-overall pick.
"It'd be fun to watch what Vic could do with Micah Parsons out of Penn State, just because you can do so many different things and Vic could be creative with him," Jeremiah said. "… Week to week, you could change his role and how you want to use him. I think he's got a chance to be a really good rusher, too, if you even wanted to just cut him loose and let him do some of that stuff. That would be one that would kind of be interesting."
Jeremiah, though, believes cornerback remains the most likely choice for Denver.
"I think everybody looks at the corner position and it looks like an obvious spot there [because of] where they're picking, the talent that will be there, that that makes an awful lot of sense," Jeremiah said. "I think they need a defensive tackle, but I don't think there's anybody worth taking up that high."